Hospital consultant Martin Rochford quit his job as a doctor to found medical billing company MedoSync. He speaks to you John Kinsella about an entrepreneurial itch he just had to scratch
Very few hospital consultants jump from their full-time job to start a business. Martin RochefordEmergency Medicine Expert, hasn’t quit his job entirely, but is now primarily focused on success MedoSyncwhich he founded in 2019 with co-founder Seamus Cooley, the technical brains behind the company.
MedoSync has developed a platform that integrates hospital and insurance systems to enable accurate, efficient, real-time medical billing. The solution was adopted by the Bon Secours hospital group and at the Affidea and Laya clinics and used to submit approximately 50,000 claims in 2021.
The company was initially funded by the founders and Rochford’s family, and last year the hat was passed around for more seed capital. The company secured €850,000, leaving Rochford and Cooley with no turning back, even if the pace of progress isn’t quite what they expected.
Rochford says founding MedoSync scratched an entrepreneurial itch that has stayed with him throughout his medical career. Like his fellow consultants, Rochford has worked hard to advance in his profession.
He spent five years in Australia to complete his Emergency Medicine training program before returning to Ireland in 2009 to take up a role in Tallaght Hospital’s Emergency Department, where he led the department from 2014 to 2016.
The problem with entrepreneurship is that finding a business idea that is worthwhile in terms of likely rewards relative to the risk and hard work required to start a business is not easy.
“I had a lot of ideas, but I was always aware that the problem is the most important thing,” says Rochford. “You have to find a problem that interests everyone. If nobody wants to pay to solve this problem, then it’s not a great business idea. In my case, the problem was right under my nose.”
According to Rochford, medical billing is a huge challenge for hospital finance teams. There are thousands of procedures and hundreds of healthcare plans, and when the bill is sent to the health insurance company for payment and the coding or patient information is incorrect, the insurance company blocks the money transfer.
Incorrect details can also result in the insurer making lower payments than expected, and Rochford estimates that muddled billing results in 6-9% lost revenue for hospitals.
Rochford explains, “As the complexity of patient care increases, so does the management of the healthcare bills that pay for that treatment. Patients come back multiple times for different treatments and by different doctors. Existing systems cannot handle the sheer volume of information collected about a patient and required for simple billing.
“Insurers, like hospitals, must grapple with the changing healthcare landscape. A lack of confidence in the current system, due to inaccuracies leading to over- or under-calculations, means insurers have to expend enormous resources to ensure they are paying the right amounts for their members’ care. This has created additional demands on the hospitals and each insurer has made its own individual demands on the service providers.”
MedoSync aims to improve or eliminate billing errors by loading all treatment and health plan codes into the backend of its platform and then getting doctors, consultants and other treatment providers to log into MedoSync and enter the required details.
The patient’s journey through the facility and charges are logged at every step, resulting in a complete billing picture for whoever bills the insurer.
In time, this information could also be useful for patients. “If you ask some people what surgery they had a year ago and who treated them, the usual answer is, ‘Ask my wife,'” notes Rochford.
Rochford’s idea would have been dead without her Seamus Cooley ready to take the risk too. The company’s chief technology officer has a background at Ingersoll Rand, Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn. However, before Cooley would write the computer code for the MedoSync database, he and Rochford first had to listen.
“In the beginning, we spent a lot of time with billers to understand what the issues were,” says Rochford. “We were aware that you can’t solve the problem if you don’t understand it.”
Initial funding of €100,000 was raised in 2020 by Louise Cox, Martin Rochford’s wife, and Brendan Rochford, his brother, and MedoSync accounts for that year show start-up losses totaling €114,000. “Louise told me just do it,” Rochford recalls. “If you want to do it, let’s not talk about it — just do it.”
Cooley had the MedoSync product operational in early 2021 and the first adopter was Richard Egan’s MyMedical, which runs three emergency care centers for Laya Healthcare.
Egan was so impressed that he invested €50,000 in Rochford’s company and now not only runs MyMedical but is also Chief Operating Officer of MedoSync.
The company raised €140,000 in equity in March 2021 and attracted ten investors for €575,000 in August 2021. they contain Jim Hannon and Alan Coleman who had great success with Britebill, and Michael Hardingwho has experience with insurance technology platforms.
According to Rochford: “We were very clear about the type of investor we were talking to. We wanted people who could help and advise us. We didn’t really go out looking for money as such. It just happened through personal imagination.”
as well as bring Richard Egg as COO on board, MedoSync was hired earlier this year Ivan Eustace for the role of Customer Success Director. Eustace used to work at advertising agencies Dentsu and Core and is responsible for ensuring that MedoSync users get the most out of the technology.
Rochford says: “When we were looking for financing, we asked ourselves what do we really need to make this company successful? We needed someone with a good business background, knowledgeable about billing and running a business.
“Communication is incredibly important. You can have the best product ever, but it’s no use if nobody can use it. They need someone who’s really good at making sure there’s a great customer experience.”
Three years into the MedoSync journey, Rochford recently reflected that while the external perception of a start-up is that progress is rapid, the reality is that success is more of a composite formula.
“The importance of momentum cannot be understated, and when momentum wanes it can become turgid and draining,” Rochford wrote on the company blog.
“In the slow phases, I start shoveling coal and getting things moving. A positive meeting with a potential employee can also have an electrifying effect. This is an important lesson for me and the people I work with – to strive for small gains because they are greater than the sum of their parts.”
In conversation, Rochford points out that entrepreneurs need energy to get out of bed in the morning and go to the office when things are not going well.
“There are bad days when you feel like things aren’t moving as fast as you’d like. If you don’t know what to do next, just meet up with someone and ask for advice. From my medical experience I learned a long time ago that usually someone else knows the answer.”
MedoSync is fully integrated with Ireland’s three private health insurers and the agreement with Bons Secours should help build product trust with other private hospital operators. The product has export potential to the UK and Australia, although each market has its own billing issues.
MedoSync was recently included in the GKV: impulse acceleratora German program looking for digital solutions for more efficient payment processing.
It is hosted by Bitmark, an IT and managed services provider that works with 80% of statutory health insurance companies in Germany.
“We are delighted to join this prestigious accelerator and to be the only Irish representative to compete with eight others across Europe,” says Rochford. “We look forward to the opportunity to showcase our solution to some of Germany’s largest healthcare providers.
“In terms of momentum, this year has been great. Starting a business was something I’ve always wanted to do and have no regrets. I think anyone who has this urge should do it because life is short. You have to do what you love to do as opposed to what people want you to do.”
Photo: Martin Rochford, founder of MedoSync. (Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography)